Having a Jewellery/Watchmaker father I've seen a lot of Jewellery and watches in my time. I use to look at the photographs on websites and think who took them? God that must be an easy job. You place the object on white paper take photo and that's that. Oh how wrong I was. For someone who has shot gigs, wedding, babies, family portraits and model portraits. Product photography is the hardest. Lighting is key, bad lighting the object looks poor, the client won't sell their items and you won't get work again, There are many different ways to lighting objects from a home made light box, to a light tent or a LED light box.
Having used all three types I can say the best way to light an object is full control. You'll need a lighting table and a good few flashes. This allows you to control where each part of the light will go. Control comes with modifiers mainly. Snoots and soft boxes are the way forward. You don't need to use all the power the flash will give you but with a snoot on your flash you can send a direct beam of light to the point you want to enhance, say a label on a beer or wine bottle. The best way is to try it out.
As I said at the start, I have a Jeweller for a farther so I started shooting some of his items. I noticed I was getting the best quality even with an LED light box or a table set up. What I needed was a macro lens. When it comes to Jewellery, you want to see all the details and you can't reach that without a macro lens. I said goodbye to my 70-200 f2.8 mkii, there was a tear or two and got the canon 100mm f2.8 macro and the canon 85mm f1.8 as I'm still wanting to do portraits.
The 100mm is incredible, the detail is amazing. I take a shot and think, why the hell is it not all in focus? Thats when I discovered focus stacking. Focus stacking is taking an object and photographing it many times, each time changing the focus point and then with photoshop stitching it all together. So I gave that a try and what do you know, they all looked rubbish. Photoshop wasn't doing what I wanted it to. So I searched the web spent many a time on youtube seeing what am I doing wrong. The images are all correctly lit the lighting hasn't changed why am I getting a blurry mess of a photo. Thats when I found Helicon focus. This software stitched every image together giving me super sharp images. That any jeweller would want on their site. Helicon Focus also came with Helicon remote, an extra bit of software that allows you to tether your camera to your computer and control how many shots you want to take, what the aperture and exposure will be on on your camera and it shows you the DOF and what's in focus. You can set it up to shoot from 1 image to 999 images, but I don't know why you would shoot that many. Most jewellery items are between 8 and 30 shots depending on the detail you require. Once the images are shot it will then take you to Helicon Focus and stack the images together.
For any photographer looking at Jewellery photography or macro photography focus stacking is the key and everything is so sharp.